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Mariah Carey sued for USD20M over Christmas smash hit

NEW YORK  (AFP) – Mariah Carey has been sued in the United States (US)for alleged copyright infringement over her global hit 1994 song All I Want for Christmas Is You, court documents show.

The plaintiff, a musician named Andy Stone, said he co-wrote and recorded a festive song of the same name in 1989 and never gave permission for it to be used.

In the suit filed on Friday in Louisiana, Stone alleges that Carey and her co-writer Walter Afanasieff “knowingly, willfully, and intentionally engaged in a campaign to infringe” his copyright.

He is seeking damages of USD20 million for alleged financial loss.

Carey’s song is one of the most successful music singles of all time, topping the charts in more than two dozen countries and enjoying considerable airtime every Christmas.

It features prominently in the 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy film Love Actually.

File photo shows Mariah Carey participates in the ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building in celebration of the 25th anniversary of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ in New York City on December 17, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

The song has sold an estimated 16 million copies worldwide and earned Carey a reported USD60 million in royalties over the last three decades. Stone’s song, released with his band Vince Vance and the Valiants, enjoyed moderate success on Billboard’s country music charts.

Despite having the same titles, the songs sound different and have different lyrics.

Stone, though, accuses Carey and Afanasieff of aiming to “exploit the popularity and unique style” his song, causing “confusion”.

“Defendants’ unauthorised use of the All I Want for Christmas is You in association with their exploitation of the derivative work acts to capitalise on the goodwill and unique talent of Plaintiff in an effort to obtain commercial advantage,” the suit said.

It was unclear why Stone has filed the suit almost 30 years after Carey released her song.

The document states that Stone’s lawyers first contacted Carey and Afanasieff last year but the parties were “unable to come to any agreement”. Carey’s publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment from AFP.

It is not uncommon for songs to have the same title. Some 177 works are listed under the title All I Want for Christmas Is You on the website of the US Copyright Office.